Activist group: Water at children's facility contaminated with radium

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Patients and workers at an Ossining facility for special needs children may have been exposed to high levels of radium, according to an activist group.

The Greater Teatown Defense Alliance says it learned of the toxic water quality at the Sunshine Children's Home through a request under the state's Freedom of Information Law. The FOIL request returned details about the apparent contamination, which the activists say exceeds legal limits. The documents also show that the center shut down its three wells in 2016 due to the element's detection. They have since returned to service, but Sunshine says it uses bottled water as a precaution.

"Unless they're using it for bathing and cooking, they're not lessening the exposure to radium," counters Adam Stolorow, an attorney for the alliance.

The facility is currently seeking permits to expand, and the alliance says that will release further unsafe levels of radium. Activists want the plan halted until the element is removed from the facility's well system.

The Westchester County Department of Health says it monitors the water supply and found no detectable radium in recent samples.

A spokesperson for the Sunshine Children's Home says safety is a main priority.

"It makes no sense for Sunshine to expand when there's serious water supply issues and radium contamination in Sunshine's well," says Gail Markels, of New Castle. "The facility should be relocated to where the children are safe."

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